Managing our own time

The ability to manage time is something very useful in our private and professional lives. Not everyone is naturally talented at effective time management, however, it is never too late to learn this skill.

The ability to manage time is something very useful in our private and professional lives. Not everyone is naturally talented at effective time management, however, it is never too late to learn this skill.

Recently, among those who deal with broadly understood management, there is a lot of talking about the need to appropriately manage time. A significant increase in the number of training courses in this field has been noted recently. Time is money – everyone is aware of that. Therefore, there is nothing strange in the fact that people wish to learn how to conserve time and, in consequence, earn more money.

Information society

Today, we are living in an information society. We come across an abundance of information every day, and we either acquire all this data or remain totally neutral towards it. Basing on the acquired information, we make specific decisions and solve problems, however, every choice we make involves some level of risk. We pursue success in its broadest sense – in our personal and professional life. On the other hand, we want to avoid making mistakes or dealing with problems which are related to our bad decisions. It is often the case that these mistakes are caused by our negligence or by the lack of time needed to complete a given task. We do not have the time to acquire the kind information that would serve as a clear path to achieve our goal. Lack of time is a widespread plague among contemporary societies. It influences peoples’ professional responsibilities as well as their private lives. Is it possible to learn to acquire spare time? Training specialists’ answer to this question is positive. The most important thing is to effectively carry out decisions while being overloaded with information.

The mistakes of managers

In order to effectively manage time, managers have to represent a certain style of management. Many people responsible for making decisions in a company waste their time on things that should not be their concern. What is important is that a manager should learn to assign certain tasks to others, so that he has time to carry out his own, basic responsibilities which cannot be neglected. The manager’s role is simply to assign specific tasks to his subordinates. He should only inspect his employees and monitor whether or not the assignments were completed according to a previously prepared plan.

In order to develop the skill of effective time management, managers have to learn to assign tasks to their subordinates. They cannot do everything on their own; they are only to direct the process of work and not become part of it. It is impossible for them to keep track of every single action personally because every day consists of a limited number of hours, unfortunately. The acceptance of the fact that their employees are well-trained, experienced and competent is a first step towards success – in this case understood as effective management of their own time. A manager has to trust the people he employs. He has to believe, or even be 100% certain, that the company can function as a whole without his active participation in many of its aspects.

Generally speaking, managers who are too much engaged in work should learn to accept the fact that the world will not come to an end if they do not appear at work, let us say, for a week or so. If a manager learns to think this way, he will never feel that he lacks the time because there is always the possibility to find some additional hours or days.

The stereotype that says that everything should be personally supervised has a destructive influence on the effectiveness of most managers.

It should be emphasized that the feeling that we lack time or have an increasing number of responsibilities mainly stems from the fact that we do not have some advanced tools that would help us organize our time. In order to effectively manage time, we have to appropriately assign priority levels to everything that we do in our professional and private lives.

The tools that help to effectively manage time

We have to become aware that time management is a difficult process and that it requires a lot of self-discipline and a perfect level of organization every day, week, month, and every next year. At the same time, there are no simple solutions to this issue. In order to be implemented to our lives, every tool designed to make time management effective will require intensive work on our part. One has to show a lot of self-control in order for effective time management to truly fulfill its role and not just serve as a catchy phrase.

The basic tools for time management are:

Tables

Diagrams

Specialized computer applications

Agendas etc.

However, can they serve as the only basis for action planning and the assignment of some precise amount of time for specific tasks with some spare hours left for unexpected events? Of course not. The catalogue of tools designed for time management is much more extensive. There is a lot to choose from.

When it comes to other tools, the easiest thing is to specify the importance of the tasks that are to be completed. Here, we refer to the previously mentioned priority designation. It must be stressed at this point that it is not always the case that immediate matters are at the same time the most important ones.

It is recommended to divide the pre-planned actions into four categories: immediate and important, immediate and of little importance, not immediate and of little importance. It is most important to complete the immediate and important things first. The rest can be postponed. We have to remember that time refers to our life, and we should not spend it entirely on fulfilling our responsibilities. We should also find room for family, hobbies, and pleasures.

Priorities and time management

Many experts claim that, in fact, there is no such thing as time management. Behind this term is the simple management of activities and priority setting. Therefore, we have to answer the question what these priorities are, with reference to private and professional life. We have to specify what must be done and what can be done.

For many people, priority assignment proves to be a difficult task, however, there are a few hints that can be very helpful in this case. For example, during planning, it is very important to ask ourselves the question whether a given task is indeed a necessity or just a kind of whim on our part. From this point of view, it is safe to say that not every low priority whim has to be taken care of.

The qualities of a person who manages time appropriately

People who are good at managing time are highly consequent in their actions and have a substantial degree of self-discipline. They possess the ability to force upon themselves certain patterns of action; they can stimulate self-motivation, though it can be difficult sometimes. A person with the ability to skillfully manage his own time knows how to defend his priorities and this means, in consequence, that he is assertive. He cannot be convinced that his priorities are of low importance, and that there are more important things to be completed.

We must not blame others for lack of time. If we take up some assignments, we have to find the time to finish them. We should not take up an assignment if we know that we will not be able to complete it on time. Surely, our supervisors want the work to be done not only on time, but as carefully as possible as well.

Each and every one of us is personally responsible for time management, and the idea that somebody else is in charge of it is simply wrong.

It is not always the case that our responsibilities are equally important and immediate, and we should be aware of this fact. If we successfully identify the tasks which are both immediate and important, it will be easier to establish proper priorities. Only this type of tasks should be completed immediately without postponing. All tasks which are not immediate but similarly important should be organized in time by fitting them into a timetable. Filling up timetables should become our routine activity. We should consider whether or not to fulfill the tasks which are immediate but of little importance. We can either totally dismiss them or try to find a hasty method to complete them. If we have little time, and we have tasks which are not immediate and of little importance, it is best not to bother with them at all. It is better to think about taking a rest and, basically, any form of break that would help us regenerate.

Planning skills prove to be essential in all these endeavors. Time is needed to plan every important task. A plan of action helps in organizing our private and professional tasks. Thanks to such organization it is much easier to find spare time for family life and personal pleasures.

We are perfectly aware that time is not something flexible, and that we cannot increase the number of hours in a day, though many people would surely like to do so. However, it is worth emphasizing that skillful time management can lead to an impression that we indeed gain a few moments just for ourselves. We can devote this spare time to anything we want. The trainings that promise to earn more time are organized in such a way as to make it possible to fulfill all duties in a specified period of time, e.g., in the eight hours of office work. Skillful time management is the key to increased effectiveness. A person who organizes his tasks and assigns time to them proves to be very effective because he is able to achieve what he carefully and consciously planned. Such plans can be formulated simply on a piece of paper, however, it is undoubtedly more convenient to create a day plan or a timetable by using a specifically designed computer application. It is much easier to implement any changes to the timetable and verify our plans by means of a computer than classic pen-and-paper methods. More time means more satisfaction. This motto refers not only to our job, but, most importantly, to our private life.